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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Sieloff

Changing the Game: Email Fundraising

We want to change how email fundraising is done.

We don’t scare people to get them to donate – we are real with donors and build real connections, and that brings in the money your candidate or organization needs.

We build meaningful connections with your donors through thoughtful email and acquisition programs, reaching people who actually care about what you are doing. The goal of your emails is not to merely raise money—money is just what helps you accomplish your work and create impact in your community.

Are you a nonprofit? The end goal is not raising money – that’s a tactic to get your good work accomplished. Are you a candidate? Your end goal is not to raise money – it’s a tactic to reach more people so that you can be elected and create the policies that support and empower your community.

We focus on your end goal—your mission—so we ensure the tactics we implement support your end goal. The purpose of traditional email programs tends to be just raising those small dollar donations. But why would you waste a tactic on one small aspect of achieving your goal? Those emails are the best chance you have to keep people interested, entertained, informed, educated, and inspired.

What if, instead of doing what “everyone else is doing,” you tried to connect with your voters in a way that made them want to vote for you? What if, instead of sending stodgy, bland missives about your organization, you were able to demonstrate the importance of the work? What if, instead of scaring people, you trusted them? What if you were able to get repeat donors AND volunteers AND folks dedicated to your mission, instead of one-time $5 donors who just feel a bit guilty not giving?

Candidate email fundraising can be complex and time-consuming, especially for agencies (like us!) who write custom content for each and every client. Bland copy, cliches like “now more than ever,” and even AI generated text is a whole lot easier to churn out. I and all of us at Woolf Strategy actually find email programs to be fun! It is fun to “impersonate” a candidate with lots of personality. I love getting in the snark, the “y’alls,” the alliteration, the local colloquialisms (Is it on line or in line?), and the vibe of who this person or organization is. It’s all in the details.

But the value that authentic voice in your emails brings to your name and brand is so important. You are running for office in the community where you live. Your race will be remembered and how you showed up in your town for your people will persist.

Organizations might feel like they’ve said the same thing forever to the same list of folks who donate the requisite $25 through an email each year. Bringing in the Woolf Pack gives you a look at your purpose-driven work in a new way. We can figure out who your current audience is and who it could be. We can determine how these folks receive information that motivates their behavior. And best of all, we can change up the words to fit this vision of your work that can attract and help commit new supporters, volunteers, and champions.

I think a lot about the fallout of scare-tactic fundraising programs. The donors those programs cultivate are a very specific type of person attracted to “everything is terrible!” messaging. These donors tend to be older and white, and want to do the right thing by stopping something. I believe this is also the reason that younger donors and donors of color might be less receptive to donating through email programs—because scare-tactics and negative angles are traditionally the go-to. I also think those donors are more likely to support candidates and causes that impact people who look and think like them. This is so detrimental to issue-based advocacy work, equity focused nonprofits, and younger candidates, candidates of color, and LGBTQ+ candidates. Bad fundraising programs are just harmful—to donors, to youth, and to justice and equity.

But Woolf Strategy is changing all that. Let’s change how email fundraising is done, together.

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